- Fr. John Jennings
Our Sacred Stories: A Faith that Offers New Vision
Life can be pretty complicated, even confusing. It is hard to see where we fit or how we make sense of it all. Sometimes we hope to find the simple and direct answer to our questions. We look for someone or something who has the ultimate truth that we can apply to all our questions and to every confusing and unsettling experience in which we find ourselves.
This is where we find ourselves turning to faith. Not the faith of pat answers and definitive responses. These might be comforting in their ease, but for a complicated life journey we need something more, something that helps us even when it seems we are lost. We hunger for a faith that guides in the midst of the messiness of our lives.
In his book, Against an Infinite Horizon: The Finger of God in Our Everyday Lives, the spiritual writer, Ron Rolheiser offers some thoughts on the kind of faith for which we all long. For Rolheiser it is a matter of how we view our lives through the eyes of faith. He frames the task in the preface of his work: When we have the eyes of faith we see a certain divine glow shimmering within the ordinary, just as we see all that is ordinary against a horizon of the eternal…. Traditional religion calls it ‘the finger of God in our lives,’ this book will call it ‘seeing against an infinite horizon.’
Fr. Rolheiser issues a call to espouse faith as a way of sorting through the contradictions and complications that the messiness of our lives throws at us. Life is indeed a complex mess. To make sense of it will take us on a journey in which we see all against the infinite horizon of what we might call God’s dream for all creation. Such vision does not offer quick and simple answers. The vision is much broader and fuller than that. It is the vision of Jesus the Christ as we find it in his message and mission, that the reign of God is among us, in the midst of our very lives.
The stories of the Good News offer us this vision in many and various ways. In chapter 6 of Luke’s Gospel we see Jesus identifying a number of his disciples as apostles who will be particularly charged with receiving and then passing on this dream of God for all. Luke’s way of telling this story is quite striking. Jesus goes to spend the night on a mountain in prayer with his disciples. Then from his disciples he calls twelve of them to be apostles of the message of God’s dream. The message is captured as he begins to teach his disciples in Luke 6:17, 20-26.
Luke’s story looks much as we find in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt.5:1-12) with a series of blessings or beatitudes. Luke however follows the blessings with a series of woes. How are we to read this? Perhaps the temptation is to start by looking at the individual blessings and woes. Better might be to see the piece in Luke’s story as a whole. Blessings and woes are part of any life journey.
Faith offers a vision that sees life “against an infinite horizon”. This horizon allows us to recognize a life-giving God who loves us always unconditionally and who never leaves us. This is the broader picture. In the Gospels this is the good news. No matter what, the reign of God is among us.
In Luke, Jesus announced this through the words of the prophet, Isaiah: The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favour (Luke 4:18-19). Seeing “against an infinite horizon” is God’s new vision.